This is it. The centerpiece of my trip to Tokyo.
We got to Tsukiji Fish Market around 5:00 am and walked up and down the narrow stalls, dodging two-stroke powered carts zipipng by with nary a honk or warning, checking out just about every creature that can be fished out of the sea. There are millions of pieces of seafood here, almost all of which is bought and either re-sold or served right up today.
If there's any question as to how fresh your seafood is in Japan, just make a trip to Tsukiji. And if you want the freshest, tastiest seafood possible, then it's best to just hit up one of the many reputable sushi restaurants in the Tsukiji Market itself. The thing is, you might wait. A lot. For instance, eating at Daiwa - the most famous and coveted sushi bar in Tsukiji and possibly the world - warrants at least a two-hour wait, queueing up tightly with the masses in the morning cold. There were at least a hundred people in line...
Of course, that was when we left, after having had the best omakase ever. It was simple, yes. Nothing too exotic - just ebi, uni, toro, tamago, ika, ikura, etc.... And then there's the tuna, the reason all those people pack like sardines into the line for Daiwa. My piece of maguro was laid in front of me and I thought my sushi had been topped with steak. And it almost tasted like steak. And the toro? Fatty, light pink, and looking like another slab of prime meat. But it was fish. And tender, as such. It was ridiculous. Over the top. And it really made for an excellent breakfast at six in the morning.
And because we got there so early, we weren't in the line pictured above. We waited maybe twenty, painful, saliva-inducing minutes before we struck seafood gold.
Ladies and gentlemen, I may have just had the best sushi on the face of the planet. If I thought before that this trip was over, that I had seen the ultimate, tasted the most insanely extraordinary, or experienced anything coming close to the be-all and end-all, I was wrong. This was it.
If I lived near Tsukiji, I'd be having sushi for breakfast every morning. All at a cool $35. A bargain anywhere in the world for food this good.
My eating tour is over.